Hitchin Symphony Orchestra
Hitchin Symphony Orchestra's motto, 'Promoting Live Music', sums up our passion and goal as an orchestra. Bringing a high standard of symphonic concerts to Hitchin audiences, we enjoy a well-earned reputation for imaginative programming. We are especially pleased to offer a concert platform for local musicians – both orchestral players and soloists.
The programme for HSO's concert in May 2020 was specially chosen by Paul Adrian Rooke to celebrate his 75th birthday. Following his death in November 2019 the orchestra planned to dedicate this concert to his memory. Unfortunately, however, the Covid-19 pandemic meant the HSO committee had to take the sad decision to cancel both our May and November concerts in 2020. Much of the same music will therefore be played instead on
27 November 2021 for a rescheduled Concert in Memory of Paul Rooke.
For a number of years Paul was Music Adviser to The Rutland Boughton Music Trust. He transcribed a large number of pieces from manuscript, some of which had never been performed. A Summer Night is a symphonic poem of great beauty and passion that he transcribed in 2010. It was recorded on CD for the first time later that year.
Fenella Humphreys is one of the UK's most established and versatile violinists. Her playing has been described in the press as 'alluring', unforgettable' and 'a wonder'. She has appeared once previously with HSO, giving a stunning and memorable performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in 2015. 'Fenella is a brilliant violinist,' said Paul, 'and I know her performance of the ever-popular Bruch concerto will be totally stunning!'
The other two works on the programme are Paul's own Saxophone Concerto with soloist Alison Eales, first performed by HSO in 2013, and ‘Enigma’ Variations by a composer whose music Paul knew so well, Elgar.
To find out more, please visit our Concerts page.
Paul Adrian Rooke (1945–2019)
Paul Adrian Rooke, Hitchin Symphony Orchestra's conductor of 35 years, died peacefully in the early hours of 19 November 2019. Paul's generosity to HSO knew no bounds and he will be greatly missed.
Paul was born in Peterborough and educated at Bishop’s Stortford College and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. After graduating with a Music (Honours) degree he spent 36 years teaching music in secondary schools, before retiring in 2002. He then established himself as a freelance musical originator and editor; transcribing and editing music by Elgar in particular. Paul was Chief Originator (musical typesetter) for The Elgar Complete Edition.
Paul conducted and composed since his student days. The list of his compositions includes various carols and solo songs, song-cycles, a String Trio, a Flute Concerto, a Saxophone Concerto and an opera. His two symphonies were given their premières by Hitchin Symphony Orchestra in November 2001 and 2006 – both of which were very favourably received. Panegyric, written in memory of John McCabe, was given its first performance in July 2016 and Sixty Years of Harmony, a song written for the diamond jubilee celebrations of Stevenage Male Voice Choir, was given its first and several successive performances in 2018.
In April 1984 Paul conducted a most successful production of the children’s opera The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by John McCabe. This was performed in the presence of the composer. The following September Paul became conductor of Hitchin Concert Orchestra. With them he performed a wide repertoire of music by 20th century English composers, plus adventurous modern works by Jeremy Aknai, Malcolm Arnold, Douglas Coombes, Gordon Crosse, Peter Maxwell Davies, George Lloyd, John McCabe, Edmund Rubbra, Robert Simpson, Martin Vishnik – and himself. Paul’s preference, while acknowledging readily the supreme masterpieces composed by the great Classical and Romantic composers, was always for British music of the nineteenth century and onward. This formed a large part of the orchestra’s repertoire under his direction.
Paul lived each of his 74 years to the maximum and in addition to composing, conducting and playing music he indulged in his other passions of cookery, watching the Posh play football, curries, and supporting his old school and university college. He was also a devoted and hugely loved Grandad, which brought him a lot of pleasure.
Patrons of HSO
Our Patrons help support the continued development of the orchestra and this allows our audiences to enjoy new and exciting programmes and soloists. We are very grateful to the members of our Patrons scheme.
If you would like to join the scheme and get discounted concert tickets, please see the Support Us page.